Over the Christmas/New year break, I acquainted myself with a film that, to me is the true classic of the school-teacher genre:

Released in 1967, this still resonates with me and, having first viewed it as an adolescent (it was an English text at my school) it probably played a significant role in my decision to pursue a career in education and most definitely colored my ideas of what a teacher should do and be.

My recent re-viewing of this film convinced me that, despite being over fifty years old (and the novel is even older), in a rapidly changing educational world, some essentials do not change.

The lessons I picked up in the film still resonate at a future-focussed school like St Columba. These include:

  • The quality of the teacher in front of the class always counts. No matter what the technology, what changes come in the curriculum, this does not not change.
  • The teacher who is willing to address the students’ needs and adapt to meet them will always be the real “hero” of education.
  • Teaching is, by its nature, a stressful vocation → Not everyone who wants to teach should teach and not every teacher should teach at SCAS.

View:To Sir, With Love (1967) – The ending:

(Note: Interesting how some of the fashions of East London fifty years ago have been regenerated over the last few years!). 

What has changed is the context in which these skills are used by highly professional educators.

For a 21st century view of what we look for in  teachers, try this little piece of video:

By definition  a teacher is:

TEACHER: a person who teaches, especially in a school.

educator, tutor, instructor, pedagogue, schoolteacher, schoolmaster, schoolmistress, master, mistress, governess, educationalist, educationist;
supply teacher;
coach, trainer;
lecturer, professor, don, fellow, reader, academic;
guide, mentor, guru, counsellor;
sophist;
dominie;
pandit;
Derogatory: schoolmarm;
Informal: teach;
Informal: beak;
Informal: chalkie, schoolie;
Archaic: doctor, schoolman, usher;
Rare: preceptor

In the 2019 context, the teacher is much more than a “chalk and talk” provider of knowledge and assessor of pass and failure.

The world has changed and so has education.

Anyone who is still teaching exactly the same way he/she did twenty or even ten years ago is unlikely to find a comfortable professional home at a school like St Columba.

Those who stand outside the classroom may not realise the requirements of a current teacher. In our current world, teachers’ responsibilities as educators have escalated far beyond what most people would understand.

The following list provides a brief illustrative overview of the knowledge, skills, work habits, and character traits commonly associated with 21st century skills:

  • Critical thinking, problem solving, reasoning, analysis, interpretation, synthesizing information
  • Research skills and practices, interrogative questioning
  • Creativity, artistry, curiosity, imagination, innovation, personal expression
  • Perseverance, self-direction, planning, self-discipline, adaptability, initiative
  • Oral and written communication, public speaking and presenting, listening
  • Leadership, teamwork, collaboration, cooperation, facility in using virtual workspaces
  • Information and communication technology (ICT) literacy, media and internet literacy, data interpretation and analysis, computer programming
  • Civic, ethical, and social-justice literacy
  • Economic and financial literacy, entrepreneurialism
  • Global awareness, multicultural literacy, humanitarianism
  • Scientific literacy and reasoning, the scientific method
  • Environmental and conservation literacy, ecosystems understanding
  • Health and wellness literacy, including nutrition, diet, exercise, and public health and safety.

St Columba has teachers who have responded to the challenges confronting today’s schools with alacrity, imagination and, through sheer hard work, made themselves ready to offer our students an education that can be compared to the very best in Australia and overseas.

My job, and that of our School Council Executive and educational leaders,  is to make sure that these talented, innovative and caring professionals have the facilities, support and opportunities to use their skills to their capacity.

What a privilege!


Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School